Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish military delegations are set to meet U.N. officials in Istanbul on Wednesday (July 13) for talks on a possible deal to resume safe exports of Ukraine grain from the major Black Sea port of Odesa as a global food crisis worsens.
Turkey has been working with the United Nations to broker a deal after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine fuelled prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer.
Diplomats say details of the plan under discussion include Ukrainian vessels guiding grain ships in and out through mined port waters; Russia agreeing to a truce while shipments move; and Turkey – supported by the United Nations – inspecting ships to allay Russian fears of weapons smuggling.
Ukraine is a major global wheat suppliers and a significant producer of corn and sunflower oil.
Russia’s invasion and sea blockade of Ukraine has stalled exports, leaving dozens of ships stranded and more than 20 million tonnes of grain stuck in silos at Odesa.
The coming harvest is also at risk as Ukraine is now short of storage space due to the halt in exports.
Ukraine sparked hopes on Tuesday (July 12) for an increase in grain exports despite Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports, noting that ships had started to pass through an important mouth of the Danube river.